There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my son, including taking out a twenty-thousand-pound loan to buy a fifteen-year-old Aston Martin that had seventy-five-thousand miles on the clock. I have to admit, it is a stunning car and awesome to drive. I feel like a movie star when I drive it.
I almost tell Leandro that it was Jett who talked me into buying it, but I stop myself. I don’t share my private life with patients.
“A 2000 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, right?”
“Right.” I smile. “You seem surprised I have this car.”
He blinks back at me, his shoulder lifting in a half shrug. “I guess I just expected you to have a…I don’t know, an Audi or a Toyota. This doesn’t fit with your…image.”
“You mean, the image that you have of me.”
Something passes through his eyes that I can’t discern.
“I guess.” He looks away. “So, are you into cars?”
“No. But someone close to me is. I was talked into buying this. It’s pretty, and it gets me from A to B, so I’m happy.” I let out a light laugh.
He laughs, and it’s rich and deep. “That sounds like something I would expect you, a woman, to say.”
“Well, I’m glad I tick off at least one of your stereotypical boxes.”
He turns to look at me. His stare is direct and intense. “You tick more than one box.”
I feel a tremor deep inside. I swallow down.
I tear my eyes from his. “What sandwiches did you bring?”
There’s a slight pause before he answers, “I played it safe.” He reaches into the bag and pulls them out. “Ham or turkey?”
He hands it over. I make sure not to touch his fingers, like when he handed me the coffee earlier. I felt like I had an electrical surge pulsing up my finger. It took everything in me to maintain my composure.
I unwrap the sandwich and take a bite. I have to hold back a moan. I haven’t eaten all day, and right now, this sandwich tastes like heaven.
Putting the sandwich on my lap, I pick up my coffee from the cup holder in my car, and I catch Leandro looking away from me.
Was he watching me?
I scratch the thought from my mind and focus on my job, which is helping him.
Taking a sip of coffee, I keep the cup in my hand. “How does this feel, being here in my car?”
“Fine.” He shrugs. “It’s stationary, and I’m in the passenger seat.”
“How is traveling in a car as a passenger? Better or worse?”
Pressing his cup to his lips, he appears to think my question over. “Well, I avoid being in cars as much as possible, which is easy while living in the city since I can travel pretty much anywhere by the Tube. But when I do have to be a passenger…I’m anxious.”
“I’m not in control.” He takes a breath, setting his coffee on his thigh. His fingers curl around the cup. “I have to be in control in all aspects of my life. That’s what frustrates me about all of this.”
“Not being in control?”
“So, you try to take control back in the only way you can at the moment, and that’s in a destructive manner in your life.”
I can feel his eyes on me, so I turn in my seat to look at him. It’s important to maintain eye contact with a patient—only, being in the car isn’t easy.
“You mean, the drinking and the women?”
Lifting a shoulder, I say, “Do you think those are positive things in your life?”
“I drank and had women before the accident.”
“But I’m guessing, before, you did those things for enjoyment, not to cover your pain.”
He looks out the window, away from me. “Do you always have to be right?” His tone is light, so I know I haven’t pushed him too far. He brings his eyes back to me.
“It’s part of my job,” I say in a teasing manner. “But, in all seriousness, just because I think something doesn’t make it right. It’s what you think that counts.”
“I guess.” He takes another sip of coffee.
“So, it’s easier sitting in the passenger seat. If I asked you to sit in the driver’s seat with the engine off, would that be possible?”
“Do I have a choice?”
There’s no humor in his voice, so I tread back carefully.
“You always have a choice, Leandro,” I say in a soft voice. “Nothing has to happen that you don’t feel comfortable with. You ever think I’m pushing you too hard, tell me. We’ll stop and reevaluate.”
“I was teasing, India, but good to know where you stand. And it’s fine. Let’s do it. Nothing can happen to me in a parked car, right?”
“Right.” I smile, my eyes meeting with his.
“Are you going to crawl over my lap to swap seats, or are we getting out of the car?” He grins at me and my face flushes.
Crawling over his lap…
“We’re getting out of the car.”
We pass at the back of my car, and surprisingly, he’s in the car before me.
I shut my door with a soft clunk. “How does this feel?” I ask him, assessing his face.
“Fine, I guess. I feel…stupid.”
“Yeah.” He rests his forearms on the steering wheel. “I’m a grown-ass man who needs help getting into a car.”